You may not give much thought to your boiler, safe in the knowledge that it is just working away in the background keeping your home or business nice and warm.
But the reality is that there are actually a wide variety of different boilers available and the different features they have can have an impact on how they work. Whether you’re looking to buy a new boiler for your business or home or you want to know a bit more about the boiler that you have in your business or home, read on for our guide to the different boiler types available.
Different types of boilers
Your boiler is part of your central heating system. It works by heating a tank of water and then that hot water is electronically pumped around your home or offices in pipes, heating every room.
All boilers that have been fitted since 2015 have to be condensation boilers. These boilers are more energy-efficient because they use the condensation created from the heated water to go back into the system, recovering some of the heat. This means that they require less energy to heat up and they are better for the environment. If your boiler was fitted before 2015 it may not be a condensing boiler.
According to this guide on boiler types by Easy Boiler Company the three main types of boilers are combi, heat only, and system boilers. There are other types of less common boilers available as well that work in slightly different ways.
If you are wondering when you should get your boiler serviced we have this covered in this article “how often should a boiler be serviced”.
Common types of boilers
Combination, more commonly known as “combi”, boilers are energy-efficient and space-saving. They combine a water heater and a central heating boiler into a single unit. What this means is that the same boiler heats the water that goes to your radiators which can be set with energy saving smart thermostats and the water that comes out of your taps.
A combi boiler doesn’t have a hot water storage tank or a tank in the loft that feeds cold water into it. Instead, they heat the water directly from the mains supply.
Also known as a heat-only boiler or a conventional boiler, a regular boiler only heats the water that goes to your radiators and is used to keep your house warm. A separate water heater is needed to heat the water that comes out of your taps.
With a regular boiler, cold water is fed to the boiler from a storage tank located in the attic and this water is heated and then transferred to a hot water storage cylinder ready for when you turn your heating on.
System boilers are similar to combi boilers in that they can provide hot water both for the central heating system and for the water system in your home or office, but they also share some similarities with regular boilers. Unlike a combi boiler, a system boiler does have a hot water storage tank. This means that they are less compact than combi boilers but it does mean that they are capable of creating more hot water on demand, which can be better for larger buildings.
However, unlike a regular boiler, system boilers don’t need a header tank in the loft to keep them at the right pressure. Instead, they use a pressurised heating circuit that is plumbed directly into the mains water.
Less common types of boilers
Back boilers were popular from around the 1960s but they are no longer an available boiler choice because they aren’t a condensing boiler (their energy efficiency is way down at around 70%). They were usually placed behind a gas fire in a hearth and they were a type of regular boiler, so didn’t provide heat to the water coming out of the taps.
Combined heat and power (CHP) boiler
In contrast to back boilers, CHP boilers are highly energy efficient (can be as high as 95%). They heat the water that travels around your home but at the same time, they also produce electricity. CHP boilers use whatever fuel source is available in your home to create electricity and then the leftover heat and energy from that process are used to heat water. Often this hot water is stored for later use.
Many people see CHP boilers as the future of boiler technology, due to their energy efficiency and green credentials, and they are likely to become a popular choice for many people looking for a new boiler.
Oil boilers are often used by people in rural areas who aren’t connected to the main power grid. They use a tank of oil to fuel the heater in the boiler and their running costs can actually be lower than a normal boiler. With that being said, they are worse for the environment than other boiler types.
Electric boilers also tend to be used by people who are off-grid or where it isn’t possible to have a gas supply. They work in a similar way to a kettle, where there is an electric-powered heating element that the water passes over. They are very energy-efficient but the cost of using electricity to heat water is much higher than gas.
When considering a boiler, it is important to make an informed and careful choice. This piece of equipment needs to last you for a very long time and you need to make sure that it is going to be of good quality. The top 10 boiler brands, as chosen by Plumb Guardian are:
- Worcester Bosch
- Viessmann Boilers
- Alpha Boilers
- Ideal Boilers
- Vaillant Boilers
- Baxi Boilers
- Glow Worm Boilers
- Potterton Boilers
- Intergas Boilers
- Vokera Boilers
To decide on the best brand, Which? used:
- warranty period
- overall reputation according to customer reviews, including Trustpilot
- how good the customer service is
- price range
- energy efficiency
There is a wide range of boiler options available, and they each have their pros and cons. Understanding the different types of boilers and how they work can help you to make an informed choice about the best boiler for your business or home for your needs. And knowing the type of boiler that is already in your home can help you to understand how best to maintain it as well as how your energy is being used.